Backpack on the floor, jacket on the floor, "keys" on the floor... all the evidence said Sandburg was home...so?
Jim opened his hearing, trying to focus on a voice - that one voice... he filtered out the bickering Russell's down in 207, Kevin and Joe in 300 - um, maybe he'd listen there... yeah, they were getting it on... the lucky stiffs... Mancini in 212, yelling at his boxer, who had apparently eaten and promptly thrown up, an entire wing chair... he filtered out garbage disposals, toilets flushing... there - one word... damn"... Blair was on the roof? In February? Without his jacket? Something was wrong - very wrong.
Ellison turned on his heel and was taking the stairs three at a time when halfway up he stopped cold. Smoke. Cigarette smoke. Blair wasn't alone? But only one heartbeat... he was alone and smoking? Blair?
Jim stepped silently out onto the roof, eyes already fixed on his partner.
Blair was sitting on one of the lawn chairs, wearing a black pullover sweater and black jeans, his hair was loose and the February wind was having a ball, weaving in and out, sending curls flying in every direction... the picture would have breath-taking if not for the cigarette dangling from his fingers.
Jim walked up behind his younger partner, reached down, plucked the offending item out of the two fingers and flicked it out into space. Blair jumped up and whirled around to face the puzzled detective.
"Shit! Jim, scare a guy why don't you?"
Ellison stood there, not responding, waiting for an explanation, one arched eyebrow asking the question.
Blair stared back, his own eyebrow equally arched in a "so what" expression.
Jim crossed his arms over his chest.
Blair cocked his head.
Jim's right foot began a slow tap...
Blair's chin went up ever so slightly...and stubbornly.
Blair smiled - his most winning smile.
Jim's foot began a faster tap - tap - tapping.
Blair's chin went defiantly higher.
"Don't pretend, Sandburg."
Sandburg's shoulders slumped and the stubborn chin took a nose-dive.
"Okay, I was smoking. No big deal. No need to make a federal case out of it...."
"Chief, you don't smoke."
"You smoke occasionally? Blair, quick review here - I'm a Sentinel, you remember, five heightened senses? I'd know if you smoked."
"I said - occasionally."
"You've been living here almost two years...Just how occasional is occasional?
"Well, I, like, need to be... um, - frustrated."
Jim frowned. Frustrated? Sandburg was frustrated?
"Is it school?"
Hesitantly, "The station?"
Frightened, "Me? Is it working with me?"
"I'm not playing 21 questions here, Chief."
Blair shifted, twitched, shuffled.
"Look, Jim, I'll deal with it. Not your concern."
"Wrong. My concern. My partner, my "your body is your temple" partner, is smoking....This same partner who refuses to let me eat at Wonderburger more than once a month.... The same partner who uses holistic medicine and herbal cures, who refuses to even use an aspirin unless he's been shot...".
"Okay - Okay!"
"You don't even like second hand smoke, what possible kind of frustration could induce you to smoke?"
Blair turned a remarkable shade of red - sort of a Christmasy red - then screwed up his face as if waiting for the axe to fall but peeked out of one scrunched up blue eye and managed to stammer out....
"Uh, sort of... kind of... ah, sexual."
"Sexual? SEXUAL? Um, would that be like, a performance problem?"
"Christ, NO! I'm... well... not - getting - any." His gaze dropped to the ground in front him and one foot began toeing the roof gravel.
No way "Casanova Sandburg" wasn't getting any... No way.
"Does "not getting any" refer to by the minute, hourly or daily?"
"That's harsh, man. Not getting any means, NOT - GETTING - ANY! Okay?"
"Right, you're smoking because you're not - having any sex. Ah, Blair, we don't actually "need" a partner, if you know what I mean?"
"That's not cutting it anymore."
"Just how long has this been - uh, not going on?"
"Such a wit. I'm suffering here and you quip."
"Sorry. Is smoking one cigarette enough? I mean, you're okay now, right?"
"What time is it?"
"I'm fine...till 5:30."
Jim was now thoroughly confused. Standing before him was one of the most incredible looking men Jim had ever known, and he was smart, funny, sensitive, fun to be with, wise and yet, oddly enough, had a naive quality about him that was at odds with his experiences and his life - and he wasn't "getting any"? Had all the women in Cascade suddenly gone crazy?
<Alright. I'm his partner. His best friend. I really should help him with this problem. I mean, I can't let this smoking thing continue.... No. Definitely not... So - I'll offer... myself? Hey, Blair's open-minded, I don't think he'd let a little detail like my being a man stop me from saving him from the evils of tar and nicotine? And let's face it - no hardship here. No sir. Making love to the man? Oh, yeah, I can handle that. For him. Down with cigarettes!>
"Blair, you can't keep smoking. That has to stop. Now. So, I propose an alternative."
"Hey, man, it's not like I want to smoke - but well, it's the only thing that works."
"Other than sex?"
"Well, yeah... there is that."
"So, I propose sex with... me."
Rapid eye blinking followed by bouncing from one foot to the other, hands waving and finally he sputtered.... "Uh, um... ahem... gosh, I mean....".
Then his head popped up, and he graced Jim with his most dazzling smile and said, "Okay, let's go."
360 degree turnaround. Completely.
"You're okay with this?" Jim was clearly taken aback.
"Yep. Come on, let's go, man."
But once back in the loft both men froze in the middle of the room... bed? Which? Couch?
For Ellison, the nearness of his roommate, the heat flowing off his body in waves, the powerful scent of his need mixed with his own natural body scents were combining to drive the older man over the edge and making it to any bedroom or even the couch was about to become moot.
Suddenly Blair turned around but as he hadn't realized Jim was so close behind him he ran straight into the larger man and bounced off the solid chest. Jim reached out to a hand to steady the younger man.
"You okay, Chief?"
"I'm fine. You're hard, but not hard enough to hurt me."
Sandburg turned a beet red as he realized what he'd said and how it must have sounded.
"Uh, Jim...oh, man... I didn't mean, oh, shit."
Jim burst out laughing. A large, open, free laugh that rolled out and brought an immediate smile to Blair's face. It wasn't often he heard this kind of laughter from the big detective.
But eventually the laughter died and the expression that was left was... well, passionate and yes, very aroused.
Time for the truth.
"Jim? I kinda... left something out - up there on the roof? I mean....".
One mildly interested eyebrow was Ellison's only response. But Blair had to confess... get the truth out there - on the table, in case Jim would want to take back his proposal... The younger man took several steps back.
"What I didn't tell you... was why I'm not getting any... and well, it's like this -
Amazingly enough, Jim got the entire sentence...run together, said in all one breath and still he managed to get it.
"Let's not call the whole thing off."
Slowly Jim Ellison began to advance on his partner, his tongue sneaking out, running gently over his bottom lip... his eyes now a deep smoky blue, his half lidded gaze roaming up and down the body in front of him, lingering on one delicious spot, where an open collar allowed a peek at springy chest hair, then moving further down, to the enticing bulge in the tight black jeans.
Blair was staring, slack-jawed, his eyes round as saucers.
The older man continued his advance and Blair stopped, his gaze riveted on that tongue....
"Can't have you smoking... not on my account... nope, simply can't have that... we'll just have to make this arrangement permanent... save you from yourself... save you from the nicotine devil... you can't afford to have your growth stunted any more..."
"That was low, Jim... uh, permanent?"
"Permanent. And Blair? This is low."
The Sentinel's arm shot out, hand snagging the top of Blair's jeans and then he pulled him in... and with one deft move, had the zipper down and jeans and shorts pushed down over hips....
"I see the "occasional" cigarette hasn't "stunted" everything!"
After that it was every man for himself as clothes went flying, mouths locked, limbs entwined and two bodies slid to the floor.
They couldn't last long. The heat, the friction, the long awaited need, the sheer joy of finally possessing what each had wanted... all combined to bring both men to a shattering climax....
Both men were sitting up, backs against the stair railing... still breathing hard, chests rising and falling, skins covered in a thinsheen of sweat.
"You don't have a need to smoke - after, do you?"
"No, but if ever great sex would call forth such an urge - this would have been it."
Two heads turned, gazing into sated blue orbs, matching smiles spreading across two faces...
"I can assume, then, that cigarettes are now a thing of the past?"
"Oh, yeah. But - you have a very heavy responsibility, my friend. Are you up to it?"
"For you? I'll always be up for it. But you'd better move upstairs, don't you think?"
"Mmmm, yes, I see your point. Better move upstairs - closer to the cure, so to speak."
The smiles broadened.
"Chief, just how often to you suppose I'll have to provide this cure?"
"Often, Jim, often. Gotta play it safe...regular basis and all."
A small bead of sweat was making it's way down from Blair's temple and Jim reached up with one finger and gently caught the bit of moisture, his finger then continuing down to the strong jaw and over to trace around the lips of his dreams....
"Regular and forever, Blair. And I'm the only cure, right?"
"Regular, forever and the only possible cure, Jim."
They'd been lovers for three weeks. Three fantastic, ball-busting, spine tingling, sweat soaking, button popping, shirt ripping, do it anywhere, anytime weeks.
And the surprise? Jim Ellison was still alive and he'd saved his partner from the deadly habit of "sexually frustrated, occasional smoking". How could a guy ask for more? And should a guy ask for more? Like a weird, kinky, very off the wall fantasy?
Well, shit. He was a cop. A Sentinel. Ex-military man. Big. Tough.
Okay, he'd just... ask. No harm - no foul. Just ask. What could Blair say? No? Or maybe, just maybe? Yes?
So, the big, tough cop would ask the lover tonight.
Tonight was almost - scratch that - was over... it was 12:38 - am. And the big, tough cop? Copped out. But before he'd copped out? He'd copped a feel - while Blair was putting groceries away... and one copped feel had led to another and before you could say "Blair Jacob Sandburg" they were doing it - on the floor - again.
Only this time he'd actually succeeded in getting them upstairs, finally. He was getting too old for the floor. If he was on the bottom? It killed his back. And if he was on top? Trying to protect his partner from his considerable bulk? It killed his knees.
Not that his partner needed his protection... he was one guy who could handle the Ellison "bulk", lusted after it, in fact...
Okay, he was rambling here.... Because he was in bed, surrounded by paperwork that hadn't been finished, okay, hadn't been started because he'd copped a feel... and?
He looked over at Blair. Sound asleep. Partially on his side, face turned away, <damn>, hair spread out, <good>, one arm dangling over the edge, sheet just resting on one hip... a curve...
<paperwork, Jimmy, paperwork>
Awkwardly, he reached over to grab his coffee mug, took a sip, looked back at that curve...back to the nightstand, back to the curve...
Umm? Why not?
So he tried it. He rested the mug on the delectable hip. Perfect fit. Close, handy, innocent feel copping every time he reached for the mug... oh, yeah, this works. Sandburg isn't the only genius in this family.
The body moved slightly, a groan emanating from deep within the chest.
"Jim? there's something on my hip."
"My coffee mug. And technically? It's resting on your left ass cheek."
"Okaaaay... now don't take this wrong, and I'm just making this up, right off the top of my head here, no deep, profound thought or anything...but - I can think of better things for you to do with my ass...".
<be brave, this is the time, don't chicken out>
"Well, now that you mention it... there is something I'd like to do....".
"So move the cup and...."
"You'd better listen first...this involves a rather odd fantasy."
"Move the cup, Jim."
He quickly moved the mug over to the nightstand as Blair rolled over, rested his head on one hand and looked at his lover.
"Fantasy? You have a fantasy about me? About us?"
"Yes. And, well, it's weird."
"That's why their called fantasies, Jim."
"Do you want to hear this or not?"
"I'm all ears and anything else your big heart desires....".
He took a deep breath.
Blair wasn't a sentinel, but he knew his sentinel... and he blushed from the roots of his naturally curly hair right down to the toenails in question.
"PAINT MY TOENAILS!"
"Told you it was weird."
"Is this because I have long hair and wear jewellery? Because I gotta tell ya....".
"It's a fantasy. Just a fantasy. Okay?"
"Why? I mean, did you do that with... Carolyn?"
"Don't be silly. Barely kissed the woman, let alone painted her toenails."
"So where did this fantasy come from?"
"Saw it in a movie, thought it was a surprisingly sexy and masculine thing to do... dreamt about it the other night, painting yours... it was a real turn on...what can I say?"
"I saw that movie, Jim. Kevin Costner was painting SUSAN SARANDON'S NAILS! A woman, Jim, a woman... ".
"I realize that. Can't help it. Just think it'll feel sexy."
"We don't have fingernail polish, Jim, unless there's something about yourself you've never told me....".
"Now you're being silly. And actually....".
He reached into the drawer of the nightstand and pulled out a small, red bottle.
"RED! YOU BOUGHT BRIGHT RED!"
"I bought nailpolish remover too, don't worry, it comes off."
"It had better."
"Does that mean you'll let me do it?"
"Hell. I must really be in love."
One hour later:
"So this is what painting my toenails does for you? I mean, you were terrific... that was mind-blowing... I won't walk for a week, but my god... I've never come like that... Jim Ellison, you are one wild man."
"You wanna paint mine next?
End of Sacrifices.